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5 Tips For Renting With Pets
●July 5, 2021●7 minute read
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Finding a suitable place to rent can be challenging enough — especially in an already competitive market — let alone if you have a pet. While Australia has one of the highest pet ownership rates in the world, many renters are often met with resistance from landlords to have a pet in their property.
According to Animal Medicines Australia (AMA), two-thirds of Aussie households who want a pet cited landlords, strata laws, or body corporate rules as a barrier.
While renting with a furry friend can be tricky, that’s not to say there aren’t some steps you can take to improve your chances of securing a pet-friendly rental.
5 tips for renting with a pet
1. Be upfront
When it comes to renting with pets, honesty is always the best policy. If you’re thinking of getting a pet, be upfront and ask the landlord first.
Even if a rental property has been advertised as “no pets allowed”, it still doesn’t hurt to ask (just be respectful of their answer). In some cases, a landlord may be willing to give you permission if you have a solid rental history and provide them details about your pet (e.g. age, size, temperament).
According to realestate.com.au surveys, landlords are more inclined to give a favourable outcome to tenants if they raise the topic of having a pet.
Remember that it’s never a good idea to try and hide your pet from a landlord or property manager — it’s likely that they will find out. If this happens, you could risk getting a black mark on your tenancy record and given a notice to vacate the property.
2. Think about your pet’s needs
When looking at rental properties, make sure to think of your furry friend and their needs. One of the key questions to ask yourself is whether the space is suitable for them. If you have a large dog, such as a Great Dane or German Shepherd, a one-bedroom apartment with no backyard may be too cramped for them and difficult for them to adjust to. On the other hand, an apartment might be more appropriate for a smaller type of pet like a cat or bird.
By ensuring you find the right space for you and your pet, it can alleviate the landlord’s concerns and, therefore, increase your chances of being approved.
Important questions to consider:
- Does your pet need a big or small space? If they need a lot of activity, a house with a backyard might be more suitable. Whereas, a pet with a lazy temperament can be better suited for a townhouse or apartment.
- Are the property’s features suitable for your pet? For example, is there a backyard with enough room for your four-legged friend to run around? Is there pet-friendly flooring (e.g. laminate, vinyl, tiles)?
- Who will look after your pet if you need to go away for travel or work?
3. Create a pet reference
It might seem a bit strange to put together a ‘pet resume’ but it can be a helpful way to show off your pet’s paw-tential as an occupant. It can also mitigate any concerns your landlord or property manager might have about allowing a pet into their property.
When putting together a pet resume, make sure to include as much information as possible including:
- Personal information: Include your pet’s name, age, weight, height, and breed.
- Personal hygiene: This includes providing evidence that your pet’s flea, tick, and worming control is up-to-date.
- Temperament: Make sure to detail your pet’s temperament and behaviour.
- Training background: For example, if your dog attended puppy school, include in your pet application what training school they went to as well as certificates and/or receipts as proof.
- Medical history: It’s a good idea to include their vaccinations history as well as whether they’re microchipped and desexed. Not only does this give your landlord reassurance about your pet’s health, it will also show that you’re a responsible pet owner.
- A photograph: While an adorable photo of your pet can earn you brownie points, it also allows the prospective landlord to see their size.
- Character references: This can include from their vet, trainer, groomer, neighbour, previous property manager or landlord. Ideally, you want a reference that can vouch for your pet’s behaviour and mention the condition that your previous rental was left in (i.e. no damage, smells).
4. Offer more rent
If you have the financial means, on top of the costs associated with owning a pet, you might want to consider offering to pay more in rent. However, keep in mind that ‘pet bonds’ are illegal in certain states.
A 2014 survey by realestate.com.au found that 80% of landlords would consider giving permission to keep a pet if they were offered more rent.
You might also want to consider offering exit arrangements such as insurance, flea fumigation, and paying for carpets to be professionally cleaned. Ultimately, landlords and property managers want to minimise the risk of property damage, so offering to chip in extra rent or other guarantees can help sweeten the deal.
5. Get it in writing
Whether you’ve agreed to pay more rent or have received approval from your landlord to have a pet, it’s always important to get it in writing. By having evidence, this helps prevent any misunderstandings or disputes that might occur in the future.
If you start a new lease, make sure you check your tenancy agreement and understand what the terms are in regards to keeping a pet on the premises.
A rundown of the pet rental laws in Australia
The rules on renting with pets in Australia vary from state to state. To help you understand which laws apply for you, we give a state-by-state rundown of the pet rental laws below.
If you want to live in an apartment building with a pet, it’s important to keep in mind that you’ll likely need permission not only from your landlord, but from the strata as well. Some strata by-laws do not allow pets in general or pets of a certain size or weight.
While the state government has recently introduced proposed rental law reforms, including renting with pets, you currently need written approval from your landlord. According to the Residential Tenancies Authority (RTA), only 10% of landlords in QLD allow tenants to keep a pet.
New South Wales (NSW)
While there are no laws that preclude tenants from having a furry friend, a ‘no pet’ clause can be included in a rental agreement. In addition, a landlord can include certain terms such as the type of animal allowed and if carpets need to be professionally cleaned at the end of the lease.
Australian Capital Territory (ACT)
In 2019, the territory’s government introduced new laws that allowed renters to keep pets without permission from their landlord. If the landlord wants to refuse your request for a pet, they will need to seek permission from the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal (ACAT) and demonstrate “reasonable” grounds for their decision.
While tenants in Victoria still need to get permission from their landlords, recent reforms to tenancy laws make it harder for them to refuse. Landlords will need approval from the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) to deny a tenant’s request to have a pet.
South Australia (SA)
Renters in South Australia can only have a pet on their property if they have permission from their landlord. While a pet bond isn’t legal, a landlord can ask for a signed agreement that includes certain rules (e.g. regarding noisy barking).
Western Australia (WA)
In Western Australia, tenants can only keep a pet in their rental property if they have permission from their landlord and if it is stated in the lease. Unlike other states, pet bonds of up to $260 can be included in residential tenancy agreements to cover the cost of cleaning and fumigation at the end of the lease.
Renters in Tasmania are only allowed to keep a pet in their rental home if they have permission from the owner or if it is in the lease. If there is property damage caused by the pet, it is the tenant’s responsibility to repair it. Generally, a fumigation will be included in the lease agreement. However, pet bonds are illegal in Tasmania.
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Written by Katie Douglass
Katie Douglass is the Senior Communications Manager at Jacaranda Finance. In recent years, Katie’s work has appeared in publications such as Marie Claire, InStyle, Oiyo, and THE ICONIC. She has a Bachelor of Creative Industries in Fashion Communication & Journalism from the Queensland University of Technology.